Posted at: 10/12/2012 5:23 PM
Updated at: 10/12/2012 5:39 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Democrat Martin Heinrich picked up a big endorsement Friday in his race for U.S. Senate against Republican Heather Wilson.
The Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), 4 million strong, cited Heinrich's support for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid during his two terms in the House of Representatives as the reasons behind the group's backing.
Some of the group's 15,000 New Mexico members packed into the IBEW union hall in Albuquerque to see ARA national president Barbara Easterling throw ARA's support behind Heinrich.
"For Social Security, the Republicans would privatize it, leaving seniors with all the risk while Wall Street gets all the profit," Easterling said. "Their plan would both raise the retirement age and lower the benefits."
Heinrich, with a 100 percent voting record from ARA, was happy to accept the group's support.
"I can tell you that my parents are people who saved and invested and yet Social Security is absolutely critical to their ability to have a middle class retirement," he said.
Earlier in the campaign, Heather Wilson proclaimed her own support for Social Security, going back to her childhood when her father died.
"Every month a check from Social Security was there for us," Wilson said in the television advertisement. "That's why I'll always protect it and I will never forget that Social Security helped my family. In the Senate I'll protect it."
The ARA also endorsed Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham for Congress in New Mexico's 1st Congressional District, over Republican Janice Arnold-Jones.
The latest independent polling in the Senate race, from Rasmussen Reports, shows Heinrich with a 12 point lead over Wilson - 51 percent to 39 percent.